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Even the huddle has shrunk. The Pentagon has crossed off the names of at least eight influential al-Qaeda officials on its kill list, and American forces have detained at least four others. American bombings last week reportedly killed Abu Hafs al-Mauritania, a high-ranking bin Laden lieutenant, and Abu Jafar al-Jaziri, an operative who handled logistics and fund raising. Those in U.S. custody include Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi and Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, both believed to be responsible for training recruits in al-Qaeda's military camps. A Kandahari commander named Nin Gyali, who is loyal to the U.S.-backed Kandahar governor Gul Agha Sherzai, told TIME that late last year Sherzai's troops captured Abu Zubair al-Haili, whom U.S. authorities identify as a senior al-Qaeda operational planner, in the southern hamlet of Takteh Pol, on a road leading into Pakistan. "The Americans were very happy," he says. Kandahar police chief Mohammed Zabit Akram told TIME the Afghans have kept news of the arrest secret for two months. If he has been caught--U.S. officials were unable to confirm his capture--al-Haili would be the highest-ranking al-Qaeda operative in allied custody.
U.S. forces scouring caves and bunkers abandoned by al-Qaeda have unearthed computer files and videotapes that the military hopes will help authorities bust al-Qaeda cells around the world. Working from a videotape and notes written in Arabic recovered in an al-Qaeda leader's house, Singapore police arrested 13 suspected members of the Jamaah Islamiyah, or Islamic Group--eight of whom allegedly trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. On the tape, a suspect identified as Hashim bin Abas marks locations where the terrorists could detonate bombs to kill U.S. Navy personnel traveling from Singapore's docks on a shuttle bus. Abas proposed hiding explosives in bicycles. According to the local authorities, the attack was to be directed by an Arab al-Qaeda member and a bombmaker from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a Filipino group. Before their arrest last week, the group had allegedly tried to purchase 17 tons of ammonium nitrate to build several truck bombs.
The international dragnet has snared some 1,500 suspected terrorists in more than 50 countries since Sept. 11. But that's nothing. Intelligence estimates of the number of potential terrorists worldwide trained by al-Qaeda run as high as 10,000. U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement officials investigating the Sept. 11 hijackers have found links from the 19 men to individuals or organizations in at least 63 countries. "It tells you that al-Qaeda is still out there in a lot of places," says an Administration official. U.S. investigators told TIME that an intensive manhunt is under way for Abu Zubaydah, the al-Qaeda aide charged with managing the global web of cells and planning the logistics of attacks. "He knows some things bin Laden wouldn't know," says an official. "When he's captured or killed, this will be a devastating blow to al-Qaeda." Zubaydah is thought to be a one-stop source for names of al-Qaeda suicide attackers, paymasters, bombmakers and phony business interests. Says the official: "There is a very significant effort under way to locate him."